Protective effects of isoliquiritigenin in transient middle cerebral artery occlusion-induced focal cerebral ischemia in rats

Chun Zhan, Jing Yang
Pharmacological Research: the Official Journal of the Italian Pharmacological Society 2006, 53 (3): 303-9
Epidemiological studies indicate that the intake of flavonoids is inversely associated with risk of stroke, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Isoliquiritigenin (ISL), a flavonoid constituent in the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra, is known to have vasorelaxant effect, antioxidant, anti-platelet, anti-tumor, anti-allergic, antiviral activities and estrogenic properties. However, there is no report on the effects of ISL in cerebral ischemia. Evidence demonstrate that the impaired energy metabolism and the excessive generation of reactive oxygen radicals (ROS) contribute to the brain injury associated with cerebral ischemia. In the present study, the protective effects of ISL were investigated in transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO)-induced focal cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury in rats. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into five groups: sham-operated group, vehicle-pretreated group, and three ISL-pretreated groups (5, 10 and 20 mg kg(-1), i.g.). ISL were administered once a day, for 7 days prior to ischemia. The rats were subjected to 2 h right MCAO via the intraluminal filament technique and 22 h reperfusion. Pretreatment with ISL significantly reduced the cerebral infarct volume and edema and produced significant reduction in neurological deficits. In this study, in order to clarify the mechanism of ISL's protection against cerebral ischemia damage, cerebral energy metabolism, brain Na+K+ATPase activity, malondialdehyde (MDA) content and antioxidant enzyme activities were measured. ISL pretreatment increased the brain ATP content, energy charge (EC) and total adenine nucleotides (TAN) in a dose-dependent manner. The brain Na+K+ATPase activity was protected significantly by pretreatment of ISL for 7 days. Pretreatment with ISL significantly inhibited the increases of brain MDA content and prevented the activities of brain superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) from declines caused by cerebral ischemia-reperfusion. All these findings indicate that ISL has the protective potential against cerebral ischemia injury and its protective effects may be due to the amelioration of cerebral energy metabolism and its antioxidant property.

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